I think one of my favorite things about summer is fresh watermelon. Living in Pittsburgh we only get a few precious months where you can buy watermelon that is grown locally. And furthermore there is a fairly small window when that watermelon is at its flavor peak! That being the case we tend to gorge ourselves on fresh watermelon during that time frame. When you select a watermelon, what’s your best method for picking the perfect one? Do you sniff it? Knock on it? Press one end in? For me I go with what I was taught and for me that’s never failed me.
♥ First, it should feel heavy regardless if it’s big or small.
♥ It should have a creamy yellow splotch where they rest on the ground.. The creamier the yellow the more ripe the fruit is. The more ripe, the sweeter it is! This is called the “Field Spot”. Why? It’s where it laid in the field while the sun ripened it.
♥ Lastly it should make a deep hollow sound when you “thump” it. Your knuckles should bounce off the melon, and the surface should be pretty hard/firm. A dull thud indicates an under ripe melon. You will get a dull thud if the flesh is soft.
So you got all of that next time you go get a watermelon?
It’s funny as I can remember vividly Mr. Fantabulous’ face the first time he saw me eat fresh watermelon. The look of utter horror was priceless! See growing up it was nothing for us while we were tending to the garden for Dad to break out the ‘big knife’ and slice up a few watermelons while we worked. However when he did that Mom was right there with the salt shaker. Yes, salt shaker. I know salt is bad for you but since that’s the only thing I put it on (other than regular recipes) I think I’m ok. There’s just something awesome about salted watermelon. It doesn’t make it bitter but rather accentuates the sweetness of it. Kind of like putting super strong coffee in a chocolate cake. It “richens” the flavor of the chocolate without overpowering it.
Well for me, my family and a bajillion others I’ve come to find out, salting your watermelon was normal. However it is NOT normal to Mr. Fantabulous. The first time he saw me do this he literally stopped mid-bite and said “What in the hell are you doing??? That is disgusting! Are you SERIOUS?? And to think I kiss you!”
I raised my brow at him (just one – can you do just a single brow raise? My one girlfriend can’t) and said “Keep it up and you’ll be kissing something else. This is how *I* eat it so shush your pie hole”. Yes, pie hole. lol Now I did get him to concede to try a bite to which you would have thought I made him eat poison by how squinched up his face got! I’m surprised he actually swallowed it!
Needless to say the man hated it salted which I was perfectly OK with as that meant more for me. Now to this day some 18 years later he still has issues with the way I eat it but that’s on him, right? I mean I don’t give him grief about not eating the entire banana. I feel he wastes them. He will break one off of the bunch and then cut off both ends to discard. Now when we had a dog, he’d get them but since we no longer do I ‘nag’ about him wasting food.
So when I decided to make this dish I did it while he was out recovering from surgery. I knew for a fact that he would never in a bajillion years consider trying this. I mean one it’s grilled – okay MAYBE he’d try that. But then to add basil and mozzarella with it. Hell to the No! And don’t even get me started on him trying the Balsamic Glaze. He would rather kiss a duck than do that. This dish is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay outside of his comfort zone. Thing is, this is pretty ‘normal’ and no where near ‘weird’ for me. Unconventional sure, but weird.. nah. He likes all of the flavors (well I’m not sure about the balsamic glaze) but to combine them. Yeah, no. So not his cup of tea.
BUT this is so my cup of tea er um, flavor profile. I mean first you know I love cheese. That, along with bacon should be it’s own food group. Fresh basil, though Mr. Fantabulous swears it smells like cat pee ROCKS. Yes, cat pee… some Italian he is huh? *wink*. Now add juicy watermelon and that sweet balsamic glaze and I’m your bestie!
When you read the directions you’ll see that the watermelon is grilled separately then it’s assembled on the skewer. You can’t grill the cheese with the basil and watermelon all at once as the fresh mozzarella will melt, the basil will char long before the watermelon is ready. Trust me, I tried. And no you really don’t have to put them on skewers when you’re done but I did because I think they look gorgeous. You can easily just grill up the watermelon and toss it into a pretty bowl with the rest of the stuff and make a killer salad with it. Just keep in mind just like any fresh water based fruit, this will produce a lot of water as it sets so I highly recommend making and eating immediately however I really don’t see this setting out very long.
Since I had the glaze made up before I started grilling the fruit by the time I went to drizzle it on the mixture had solidified but that’s not a big deal as I just put some heat on it and it re-melted into that beautiful glaze. It’s funny as Mr. Fantabulous had no clue that I made this dish, ate it all by myself OR even took the shots. It wasn’t until he saw me editing them did he say “Hey what is that? Those shots are gorgeous! Wait, is that watermelon and CHEESE??? Dear God Woman (yes again with the woman!) you put cheese on everything! I bet you put cheese… on cheese!” LOL Yep, I pretty much do that. He said “So what is that? It’s gorgeous but I don’t remember you making this.” I just said “I made it while you were napping one day and I didn’t save you any as I knew you wouldn’t eat it but it’s Grilled Watermelon Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Glaze”.
<insert blank stare> “So it’s grilled watermelon with cheese, basil and some funky glaze?” he asked. I just chuckled and said “pretty much, yes.”
To which I received “Yeah, not my thing toots.” and walked away.
Toots??? I’m now Toots? Dear Lord give me the strength with that man to not put him in a basket with a red bow and drop him on one of your doorsteps! LOL
But if you’re looking for something that is fancy-ish and is totally Summer awesome all the way, try these! It’s cool and refreshing while filling and gorgeous!Print
- 4 cups watermelon, seedless and cut into 1x1” cubes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced into 1/4” thick round slices, quartered or halved
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2–3 Tbl honey
- Make the balsamic glaze by combining the balsamic vinegar and honey in wide saucepan.
- Bring to boil then lower heat to low.
- Simmer away, stirring constantly till the glaze coats your spoon. Remove from heat.
- While the glaze is simmering preheat a grill pan over high heat.
- Spray the pan with cooking spray.
- Sear each side of the watermelon 2-3 minutes per side or until a nice char has formed.
- Place each charred piece on a cooling rack with a pan underneath it to catch any drippings.
- To assemble place one piece of charred watermelon on the skewer followed by a slice of mozzarella, basil leaf and then repeat ending with a slice of watermelon.
- If the glaze has thickened too much, put over low heat to liquefy again.
- Drizzle glaze over the skewers.
- If there is any glaze left, pour into jar or bottle.
- Store at room temperature.